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How to Descend Faster?(16 posts)

How to Descend Faster?Fez
Dec 29, 2003 9:58 AM
I'm about 150lbs - not light, but not heavy either. I'm a fairly decent climber and can hang on most group training rides, but I would like to improve my descending skills.

I try to get into a low and narrow tuck but still find myself getting passed on descents.

Could it be I'm not getting enough speed built up before I go into the tuck?

I'm not blaming it on equipment, but do hubs actually get noticeably slower after a few years of use? From looking at it, it still spins fine in the workstand.

And how much of a difference would an aero wheelset make compared to an Open Pro 32 hole wheelset? So much that you could drop others on long descents?
depends on hubcyclopathic
Dec 29, 2003 10:18 AM
Some hubs get slower grease dries out, some actually get faster due to worn seals. Turn bike upside down and spin wheels. If there're any problem with hubs you'd see it right away.

There's about 8-9% drag saving btw 32 spoke box-rim and the best combo (trispoke front/disc rear). Deep section/low spoke count aero wheels will save you ~4-5% on aero drag, which should be good for 1-1.5% speed increase.

If you really concern with losses drop helmet, zip up and do not wear loose cloth. :)
depends on hubWoof the dog
Dec 29, 2003 5:57 PM
"If you really concern with losses drop helmet, zip up and do not wear loose cloth. :)"

do you mean to say that its more aero without a helmet?

thanx

woof.
yeapcyclopathic
Dec 30, 2003 8:30 AM
and the best is to shave head too but if not put swim cap on.

Personally, I will never ride w/o helmet, but some helmets have less drag then others.
Momentum...biknben
Dec 29, 2003 10:25 AM
It's been a while since I took Physics but you are most likely being passed by guys who are heavier. They have more momentum (velocity + mass) than you. Therefore they can more easily overcome the wind resistance. They wind slows you down more because you have less weight.

Those other things you mentioned may equal a bike length or two at the end. If you start with someone else going the same speed and you get dropped than it's all body weight.

Once again, I'm no physicist. Someone else can chime in with the formulas.
Agree w/ ben on this oneinnergel
Dec 29, 2003 11:10 AM
I am 6'5" and 220lbs and I blow by most smaller riders on descents. It's so noticeable, evne on short descents, that I have to make sure I position myself to the outside of a group coming to a descent to keep from getting boxed in. Otherwise I have to feather my brakes to keep from riding up the backside of the riders in front, which is usually a lot on climbs of any substance :-)

If the guys passing you are about the same size, then it could be just a matter of improving your bike handling skills. Watching the big tours you'll inevitably see someone who can fly downhill and make up a bunch of time. The announcers always comments on the level of risk (high) the rider is taking, how good the lines he takes are, and how good his bike handling skills are. Just like any other part of riding, the more you practice going downhill, the better you'll be. You'll also get the benefit of having to climb those hills in the first place.

Maybe not the answer you are looking for, like buying new parts, but it usually holds true. "If you want to be better at (insert skill here), then (insert skill here) more."
eat more donutsgtx
Dec 29, 2003 11:10 AM
You'll go down faster but up slower. It's not your hubs.
Don't brake lots.DougSloan
Dec 29, 2003 11:15 AM
I assume you mean in a straight line, more or less, and not cornering? I'm about your size, but always out-descend everyone or at least don't get beaten down hills, even with much larger riders with me. It must be aerodynamics. With that in mind, I'll just relate what I do, because apparently it works for me...

1. My handlebars are about 4-5 inches lower than my saddle. This is actually comfortable for me; I guess I have a flexible lower back; this allows a pretty low position when in the drops.

2. I move my butt aft of the saddle (when tucking), so that my mid-belly is on the saddle.

3. I put my hands either in the drops if I need to steer or brake, or close together near the stem if it's wide open.

4. I put my face nearly touching the stem, but looking forward (watching the road like a hawk).

5. Elbows and knees in, with pedals at 9 and 3, knees touching the top tube, feet flat, back flat; I think that's about all you can do with your body.

6. Loose or unzipped clothing is a killer.

7. Wheels more aero than standard 32 spoke Open Pros will make a difference. At 50 mph, it's 1-3 mph. I've tested this myself. Even something like Ksyriums or Nucleons make a difference, with fewer, bladed spokes. Yes, I think wheels can make enough of a difference to drop others on descents.

8. Of course, the higher your initial speed, the more likely you'll reach a higher terminal velocity, or at least reach it earlier in the descent, depending on how long the hill is.

9. It takes upper body strength and stamina to maintain a low position. I used to wear out, particularly my neck, before the end of long descents, but then they can be really long around here (5-10 miles). Rountinely doing this helps.

It may be that the ones passing you are using your draft to pick up speed to pass. Not much you can do about that, except pick up theirs as they go by and then pass them.

Just be careful. Watch the road so that you don't hit anything. I'd also recommend a little mirror so that you can see other riders and cars coming up behind you. I think it's more aero to use the mirror (about 1 sq. inch of frontal area) than to look back, and probably about a thousand times safer, too, as you keep your face forward).

Doug
Find a fat slob to get behind and draft them downbimini
Dec 29, 2003 11:34 AM
Weight is your enemy going up a hill and your ally coming down. Find the wheel of a large body that made it up the hill with the pack and latch on. Drafting at high speed can be tricky so stay back at least a foot so you can go either right or left if the wide body hits the brakes.
If you're in a raceThe Human G-Nome
Dec 29, 2003 1:12 PM
If you're in a race and you're the feather, find someone who is a naturally fast descender and work like hell to grab their wheel. This may even mean that you have to sprint downhill to make this happen. Once you have their wheel, it would be almost impossible for them to drop you on the straights no matter the disparity. The trick is not letting them go in the first place or if you see someone has whizzed by you, you have to do everything you can to latch on. The brief effort you put in will be more then worth it in the long run if it's a good sized descent.
Find a fat slob to get behind and draft them downfiltersweep
Dec 30, 2003 2:48 AM
That is very dangerous- I saw a very nasty crash that almost snared me from a guy doing that. If you draft and do not brake, you will actually go faster than the person you are drafting. It is simple physics. I saw a guy touch wheels and go down, taking a few others. Bad crash.

Watch a pro race and see how many pros draft on descents.
re: Pedal?jrm
Dec 29, 2003 12:39 PM
I pedal in the straights until i spin out then i glide. From there scrub speed before turns and dont drag the brakes through turns.
Yeah, and getting/spinning an 11 will help too (nm)hrv
Dec 29, 2003 1:55 PM
pedal+wheels similiar to ksyriums=betteraaroncvc
Dec 29, 2003 9:09 PM
pedalling while descending not only offers the potential to get better speed, but it increases the flow of blood to your legs... keeps them warm (long descents get cold!), and helps to break down lactic acid. some would argue it offers better control.

i "And how much of a difference would an aero wheelset make compared to an Open Pro 32 hole wheelset? So much that you could drop others on long descents? "

there's a noticable difference in how fast i go downhill when i'm using my ksyriums, compared to my bontrager's or cxp-33's. also i think the ksyriums are the stiffest, best wheels i have ever ridden, but that's a topic for another thread.

on the other hand, i think it's pretty hard to get dropped on a descent for lack of speed. confidence on the other hand, can be a separating factor. bigger balls and a willingness to take more risks may put time into people who are more conservative in twisty descents.
altoona, cat 4 race, day 2: on the bike lesson in dragaaroncvc
Dec 29, 2003 9:15 PM
very fast, fairly straight 6-7 mile descent.

looking down, i saw the speed was in the high 50's without turning the cranks. approaching a turn, i wanted to scrub some speed. tapping the brakes brought me from like, 58 to maybe 52. tapping the brakes while sitting up and catching as much wind as i could brought me back down to the low-mid 40's.

going down the sides of mountains is kind of amazing.
Smoke them on the climb. . .js5280
Dec 30, 2003 8:09 PM
I remember reading Ned Overend racing against John Tomac, in Ned's book "Mt. Bike like a Champion." Ned's a climber, Tomac an awesome descender. Ned said that he'd get well in front of John on climbs to make him really work on the descent which would wear him down a little. The next hill, John would be a little bit further behind Ned because he couldn't recover fully. Plus by going ahead, your riding your race and not stuck behind someone who is just a little slower but fast enough you can't pass them. Granted you have to weigh the draft advantage. This advice is more advantageous off road, but I think the concept works on the road too.

Other suggestions; don't stop climbing aggressively until you're just over the peak of the climb so you have some momentum built up for the decent. Doug's tuck suggestions are excellent, butt way back and low (which is good if emergency braking is needed too), chest on seat, everything pulled and tucked in.

Also figure out where you top out on your gears. I know once I hit around 34-35 mph I can't spin fast enough (at least effieciently) to get power to the wheel. At that point it is time to get aero. Keep an eye on that speed for when you drop below so you can start pedaling again. If your going around curves, make sure your in the ideal gear for the exit.

Keep going faster till the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death ;-) Hit the apex, stay off the brakes until you really need them, weight that outside pedal. Watch the other descenders and do what they do. Maybe they pick better lines or brake more efficiently. If you can draft them, that should really help with the weight advantage. Just be careful, going off the road, into incoming traffic, or clipping another cyclist at high speed is a good way to get yourself killed.